When the Falcon Heavy rocket by SpaceX blasts this summer, it will transport the Carl Sagan-inspired LightSail 2 by Planetary Society. You might recall LightSail as an experimental, crowd-funded “solar sail.” The exclusive craft seems something like a huge kite, and it was dreamt as a method to direct satellites around orbit employing power from the sun, instead of chemical fuel. The first LightSail launched in 2015, and now the Planetary Society is all set to blast off LightSail 2, which has operated out a few errors and will offer a chance to additionally test solar sailing.
While noteworthy, the first flight of LightSail did little more than establish that the photon-fueled craft was feasible. This launch will take things a step forward. The team aims to fly the craft around the Earth in an orbit and to trial out its maneuverability. Eventually, the Planetary Society expects to employ the LightSail to power CubeSat satellites all over the orbit. “This is history in progress—LightSail 2 will basically enhance the spaceflight tech,” claimed CEO of The Planetary Society, Bill Nye, to the media in an interview.
The Falcon Heavy rocket is planned to blast this month in a 4-hour window from the Kennedy Space Center. If all goes as per the plan, apart from carrying LightSail 2, this will be first night launch of Falcon Heavy.
On a related note, the first set of 60 Starlink Internet satellites has been revolving around Earth for almost a week, and now SpaceX has rolled out a status upgrade on the mission. As per a spokesperson, all 60 satellites have been set up successfully in their solar arrays, communicated with our ground stations, and created positive power.” The statement did not directly cite issues by astronauts about their visibility and brightness.